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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 26, June 28, 2009, Article 14

MORE ON U.S. COIN DENOMINATIONS

Last week, David Gladfelter wrote:
Of course, the United States' earliest “real coins” (silver and gold) did not carry a denomination either. The first half dime to do so was in 1829, first dime was in 1809, first quarter in 1815, first half dollar in 1807 (unless you count the 1/2 on the 1796 – half what?), first silver dollar in 1836, first quarter eagle in 1808, first half eagle in 1813 and first eagle in 1838. But our copper coins did carry denominations, in words and in fractions, from day one.


Steve M. Tompkins submitted the following comments. -Editor
I hate to be a stickler or anything, however several of the statements made by Mr. Gladfelter are just plain wrong. I think that whenever statements are made, we should try to be as clear and accurate as possible.

For the sake of accuracy, please find a list of the United States coins and the correct dates of appearance of a listed denomination on each type that follows:

Half cent – 1793 – 1797, Denomination stated on the edge of the coin (TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR), also on the reverse from 1793 – 1857 (HALF CENT), and on the reverse as a fraction from 1793 – 1808 (1/200).

Large cent – 1793 – 1795, Denomination stated on the edge of the coin (ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR), also on the reverse from 1793 – 1857 (ONE CENT), and on the reverse as a fraction from 1793 – 1807 (1/100).

Half Dime – Denomination stated on the reverse of the 1792 pattern only (Half Disme). Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1829 (5 C. ).

Dime – Denomination stated on the reverse of the 1792 patterns only (Disme), denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1809 (10 C. ).

Quarter Dollar – First struck in 1796, denomination added to the reverse in 1804 (25 C. ).

Half Dollar – Denomination stated on the edge of the coin from 1794 – 1807 (FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR), also on the reverse in 1796 & 1797 (1/2). Dollar – Denomination stated on the edge of the coin from 1794 – 1803 (ONE HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT).

Quarter Eagle – Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1808 (2 ½ D. ).

Half Eagle - Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1807 (5 D. ).

Eagle - Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1838 (TEN D. ).

In my opinion, the new larger silver coins (half dollar & dollar) had a denomination stated to establish their value, where as, it was felt that the smaller denominations would be easily identifiable due to their size in relationship to the larger coins.

It was also thought that the value of the gold pieces were easily determined by comparison to the sizes of other foreign coins in circulation at the time, as well as the ability by most merchants to check their weights. Most likely due to the fact that these ideas did not work that well, easily seen and understood denominations were eventually stated on every circulating coin type.



Wayne Homren, Editor

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